By Patrick Hieger

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It was an emotional evening at La Paz’s Gustu last night. At nearly three years in the making, the first-ever class of Claus Meyer’s Melting Pot foundation graduated, and perhaps no one was happier than Papa Claus himself.  “When I first thought to do this, I didn’t know it was possible,” Meyer said.  But as a dozen students’ parents and relatives, as well as their mentors and friends Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari looked on, everything seemed possible, a massive step in a whole new direction for Bolivia.

As Meyer began his speech, telling of the very long road it took him to end up devoting so much of his time to Bolivia, his team of mentors, chefs, and leaders sat listening, the whole room charged with emotion.  “To see you sitting here graduating, and to come here as a guest in this building that is so full of life, and to see how many people Kamilla and Michelangelo have trained, it is the most important thing I have ever been a part of.”  Although he founded Noma, and continues to be one of the world’s most successful restaurateurs, you could see on Meyer’s face something that went beyond joy, into a territory of satisfaction that even he might have never thought possible.  It seemed that none of the praise for having consistently been ranked the number one restaurant in the world really mattered. He had changed lives, and each of them was looking back with nothing but gratitude.